UNION COUNTY, NJ – The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s (NJDA) Division of Animal Health have confirmed a new Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) case in a Union County live bird market.
The disease response is being coordinated between state and federal partners, officials said.
Test samples from domestic poultry at the Union County premises, the exact location wasn’t released, were submitted and tested at the New Jersey Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory as part of routine surveillance. There were no signs of HPAI in birds during that surveillance on Wednesday, September 13. Congruent testing was completed at the National Veterinary Services Laboratory, which confirmed the detection of the disease on September 15.
The live bird market is quarantined and is no longer accepting deliveries. The market will undergo a 24-hour shutdown, which includes removal of all birds and livestock and a cleaning and disinfecting process.
State and federal personnel are following the appropriate response plan, including implementing site quarantine, proper biosecurity measures, and depopulation of poultry on the premises.
Additionally, outreach to poultry owners and the general public at www.nj.gov/agriculture has been completed to provide recommendations on poultry management and measures to ensure the maintenance of a healthy flock.
HPAI poses a low risk to the general public, and only one human case – in April 2022 – has been reported in the United States. Globally, human infections have most often occurred after close or lengthy unprotected contact (such as not wearing gloves, respiratory protection, or eye protections) with infected birds or with places that sick birds have touched.
No instances of sustained human-to-human transmission have been observed. Properly cooked poultry and eggs are also considered safe to eat.
HPAI is highly contagious and often fatal in domestic poultry species. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the recent HPAI detections in birds do not present an immediate public health concern. As a reminder, poultry and eggs’ proper handling and cooking to an internal temperature of 165 ˚F kill bacteria and viruses.
Signs of HPAI in poultry can include:
- Sudden death
- Decrease in feed or water consumption
- Respiratory signs such as coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge
- Swelling around the eyes
- Open-mouth breathing
- Darkening of the comb/wattles
- Reddening of the shanks or feet
- Decreased egg production
HPAI spreads through contact with bodily secretions, including feces, ocular, nasal, or oral secretions from infected birds. The virus can spread on vehicles, equipment, shoes, etc. Practicing good biosecurity can help prevent the spread of HPAI onto a farm.
Those biosecurity practices include:
- Eliminating exposure of domestic birds to wild birds. Minimizing standing water and extra feed in the environment that might attract wild birds.
- Avoiding contact with other poultry.
- Keeping a specific set of shoes and clothing for tending to poultry. Disposable boot covers or a foot bath that is changed regularly are other measures that can be used.
- Minimizing the number of people who visit the birds.
- Avoiding sharing equipment with other flocks and using appropriate disinfectants for equipment that must come onto a farm.
HPAI is a reportable disease. Any individual who shall gain knowledge or suspect the existence of the disease in poultry/birds shall notify this office without delay. Deceased birds suspected of having Avian Influenza should be double-bagged and stored appropriately for testing. Do not expose dead poultry to the environment, other poultry, or wildlife/wild birds. Wash your hands after handling sick or dead birds.
If you suspect HPAI, please alert the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, Division of Animal Health at 609-671-6400.